Paranormal: a Closer Look at Netflix’s First Egyptian Original Series

Official image from ‘Paranormal’ series, Netflix’s first Original Egyptian production. Ahmed Amin as Refaat Ismail and Razane Jammal as Maggie.

Once a beloved pocket book series, carrying wide nostalgia for Egypt’s 90s kids, Ahmed Khaled Tawfik’s thriller series Ma Waraa al Tabiaa (Paranormal) is getting somewhat of a millennial makeover. 

From book series to television series, fans are excited to see how Tawfik’s mystical world will be brought to life, especially under the production of Netflix, the world’s leading streaming entertainment service. 

Being the first original Egyptian Netflix production, all eyes are on Paranormal as everyone eagerly awaits its grand reveal, grasping onto whatever piece of information one can get along the way in attempts to satisfy their curiosity. 

The show itself will follow the same storyline as that of the books, revolving around the character of Refaat Ismail (played by Ahmed Amin), the dark humored hematologist whose world turns upside down as he discovers a world completely void of scientific reasoning – a paranormal world. 

‘Paranormal’ director Amr Salama on the set of the show. Image courtesy of Netflix.

From then on, audiences go on thrilling and chilling adventures through time and paranormal worlds alongside Ismail and his university colleague Maggie (played by Razane Jammal).

“The more you go back in time, the more difficult it is to portray the details,” comments award-winning Paranormal director Amr Salama regarding the various periods of time to be showcased in the series. Throughout the series, audiences will find themselves transported between Egypt in 1910, 1941 and 1969.

Salama is meticulous in how these time periods are portrayed, commenting on the challenges most especially apparent in choosing the right props, costume, location and even casting when it comes to particularly older periods of time. 

Bringing Tawfik’s Paranormal world to life has actually been a lifelong dream of Salama’s. “I remember as a child, when I was around eight or nine years old, I was living outside of Egypt and I really wanted to read anything Egyptian,” he recalls, “There was this one bookstore that would have books from Egypt, and as soon as Paranormal came out, I started reading the series and I loved it… it was the first thing I read outside of school reading.”

Behind the scenes on the set of ‘Paranormal’. Image courtesy of Netflix.

Salama goes on to say that when he first began his journey in filmmaking, he had actually reached out to the late Tawfik in 2006 in attempts to deliver his vision of how he had planned on creating a television show out of his book series. He did indeed meet with the writer and shortly afterwards managed to obtain the rights with the aid of producer Mohamed Hefzy. 

Fast forward 14 years into the future and the director’s dream is now reality. Quite different to any other of his directing feats, all of which deal with very real issues prevalent in present day Egypt, it will be interesting to see how Salama translates a supernatural horror series to both an Egyptian and international audience. 

A glimpse into the special effects makeup of ‘Paranormal’. Image courtesy of Netflix.

Recently released official photos from the set of Paranormal give a glimpse into Salama’s depiction of Tawfik’s world. Audiences are set to experience an Egyptian show unlike any other, marrying the magic of set design with that of special effects to bring about the supernatural world we chillingly experienced through Tawfik’s pages as children.